Artvoice: What The Market Will Bear

(Geoff Kelly – Artvoice) Noon on a Tuesday at the Broadway Market. Outside a man is hawking athletic socks, while another challenges passersby to a chess game in the scant shade of a maple tree in a concrete planter. About a half dozen people stand in line at a hot dog stand. The corner is a meeting place, alive with action and conversation. Traffic is brisk, on the street and on the sidewalk.M A R K E T

That’s the outside. Inside, the market is quiet and nearly empty. But for the PA system playing classic rock, you could hear a clock ticking. Twice in the past two weeks I’ve visited the Broadway Market at lunchtime and counted no more than a dozen customers in the cavernous main hall. Half of those are elderly men and women sipping coffee from paper cups in the food court. At least a third of the active vendors left in the market—there are 34 right now, compared to more than 50 just 10 years ago—are shuttered. Excluding the Save-a-Lot grocery store and the market’s four lunch counters, which were busier, I counted six cash transactions between customers and vendors in one hour.

Six sales in an hour. Fewer vendors, fewer choices. What’s wrong with this place? The Broadway Market has survived 120 years, and the last 30 have been tough, but never has its prognosis seemed so grim. Where are the customers? Why have so many vendors leave? Is it the neighborhood, whose economic decline mirrors that of most every other East Side neighborhood? Is it racism? Is it competition from suburban supermarkets? Is it poor public transportation and the market’s distance from the downtown core? God knows it can’t be lack of parking—thanks to a car-centric reconstruction of the market in 1late 1950s, there are 1,300 parking spaces in the attached ramp, which are almost always mostly unused.

[Read full story in Artvoice]

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23 thoughts on “Artvoice: What The Market Will Bear

  1. Unfortunately, the time may have come and gone for the famous Market. As the folks of the 1950’s and 1960’s get old and pass on, the kids (me included) move on and 99% of the time leave the area. The overall location of the market is superceded by the “cast of characters” around the area – you know – the usual thugs and gangsters as in any low-rent area of any major city. It’s too bad, because I grew up going to the market at least twice a weak in the late 60’s and early 70’s. That was then, this is now. Save taxpayer monies and let it go. Revitalizing this area will not happen unless the low-rent thugs are forced out of the area and that will not happen. The last great generation to frequent the market are now in their 70’s and 80’s and beyond. It’s time to say goodbye with a tear in my eye. Long live the market, the Greater East Side and all those memories that go along with this.

    Mike

  2. Sure the neighborhood has issues but you seem a bit off base with your comments Mike. When was the last time you were there? I live here, I see what goes on.

    Under your idea we should just give up on the central terminal, the churches and everything else that is good around here because you think it is bad. I live here! I know a lot of people who live around here who are black and who are white they are hardly thugs or gangsters.

    I am sick of people like you who don’t even live around here anymore telling people like me my neighborhood sucks.

  3. My Mom and Dad frequented the market until my Dad’s passing two years ago. My Mom has sinced moved to West Seneca and she is too frightened to be there by herself even during daylight hours. Yes, I have been gone since 2005, but even back then it was not a fun trip during regular business hours. On Easter weekend, it was different because all of the old regulars and their families would be there. Face facts – the market was all about traditional Eastern European food and products. Polish, German, Czech and so on would be the choice marketeers. Now, the market caters to the people currently living in the area. I am not saying it won’t work, but trying to keep the OLD MARKET alive today will not work.

  4. Sounds like you and your Mom are a bit fearful of us black folk?

    “Thugs and Gangsters”

    I am glad your mom stays home. I can’t guess what happens if a black person walks down the street in West Seneca. I know, she calls the police and locks her doors.

  5. S. Wilson.

    I agree a lot with what you said, except for this.

    I think it’s easier to be black person in the neighborhood and not get messed with.

    Just like in some redneck small towns, it’s harder for you to walk down the street.

    I love the neighborhood, and I’d love to live there and walk to the market everyday.

    But I know that I’d either get robbed or shot, very shortly after my move.

    I live on the west side about 3 blocks from Grant St, my neighborhood is not as bad as BF and I still feel unsafe at night.

    It’s the sad truth.

    I do think we should continue to fix up the neighborhood, including the Market and the CT.

    I don’t think it’s impossible to save BF.

  6. And yes, I know that there are plenty of good people in BF who are actually trying to keep their neighborhood clean.

    They’re just outnumbered.

  7. Of course it’s not impossible. Each day, things get a little better around here.

    The problem is when people are met with adversity, they run. Sad to say that when people are met with diversity, they run too. So, what’s left? The problems.

    The people who are willing to stay do their best to fix the problems, but, since there are few, it takes even longer. The people who run… well, give it some time, they will have their own problems (it’s becoming apparent, ie: Amherst crime rates went up how much while Buffalo’s dropped?)

    So of course there is hope! If there wasn’t, people like Chris, Mike and Michele would not be here fighting the good fight!

    Now I must decide, which am I? A gangster or a thug?

  8. As a Broadway Market Vendor, I agree we need longer hours. I agree we need Sunday hours. I agree some of the stands look like a flea market but folks this is not Saks Fifth Avenue. It is a Public Market. A place where produce, meats, and sweets are sold. In recent years other vendors have been added to bring diversity to the place. Have any of you naysayers visited St. Lawrence Market in Toronto or Pikes Place in Seattle? I have visited both and they are not pretty shopping Centers. Although they have more customers, they have concrete floors, old bathrooms and vendor stalls that look like a flea market.

    I will be the first to agree that the Broadway Market needs updating but don’t bash these people who are struggling to make a living when so many closed up shop and moved to the suburbs; businesses and homeowners alike.

    Give these vendors some kudos for sticking it out. The rents at the Market are over $13.00/sq foot, not cheap for commercial space. My rent alone is over $2000.00 per month. Although difficult to pay at times, I make a living and am able to put food on the table for my family. Most of these vendors are either Polish immigrants or African Americans who didn’t go to college or get a fancy business degree. They should have your respect because they have the guts to own a business in the worst part of town. They are trying to make an honest living when it is so easy now a days to get in the welfare line.

    We are not asking for a handout from the city. We are merely asking for the city to make the necessary repairs and updates to the building as any responsible landlord should. We have leaks throughout the building, an outdated sewage system, and heating and AC that don’t work. Any landlord would have been taken to court long ago for not fixing these problems. These issues need to be adressed before this becomes another instance of demolition by neglect on another city owned property.

    I would also like to invite the people who are so critical of the vendors to come and open a business. I will even pay your rent for a month. I’d love to see your marketing and merchandising skills in action. It is always easy to criticize something you know nothing about.

    I am not going to get mixed up in the political mudslinging that has transpired this week. These personal attacks between the Board, Management and David Fronczak should never have been made public. This drama scene that we had to witness was embarrassing for all of us and only hurt the Broadway Market’s future.

    There are a few of us seasoned vendors who are going to try to make a change but we need public support and customers. We are willing to fight for the Broadway Market to keep our businesses alive. All we ask is that you please support us.

  9. I too am dismayed at the critcism levied at the vendors, but when I was at this meeting yesterday I couldn’t help but wonder what would have happened if Dick and Jim didn’t piss off Louise Slaughter.

    I also wonder what would have happened if they would have opened up their factory outlet store in almost 1/2 of the market, do some vendors think they wouldn’t have been let go.

    I must say though that most of critcism levied isn’t at us vendors it is levied at the management which think about it folks have done little to help the market.

    I think people us vendors included know what the problems are with management. We have to stop being scared or bullied by them and push for changes.

    When was the last time before yesterday that management told us of their plans? After the meeting yesterday it became quite clear that they do not have plans, they blame everyone else except themselves.

    Something needs to change.

    And I disagree with the other market vendor sometimes things need to be made public.

  10. The Market should be the neighborhood center for retail business and retail business development in much the way Market Vendor outlines and talks about the current vendors…it can be an incubator for people with an entrapanurial spirit…inside of all the discussion the key is that there are a lot of people out there who want to see the Market thrive…

    As for the neighborhood, there are examples of public markets all over the country which thrive in so called “bad neighborhoods”…you only have to travel down the road to Rochester to see one…

    I don’t like the racial undertones in some of the comments…black, white, green, orange…whatever…we are all in this together…

  11. I am glad that market vendors took the time to post something on here.

    I don’t shop at all of the vendors but I have no problem with any that are there.

    I do think there should be more variety of foods. From reading what I have this week it doesn’t seem like the management does anything to attract new vendors.

    Do people really think it is a shooting gallery down here?

  12. Most people do, yes.

    I was over in BF walking around, and a old drunk guy told me he got stabbed just walking through a parking lot by some random guy.

  13. I don’t like racist undertones either.

    But the fact is, race is a major issue in life.

    I couldn’t care less about race, but it’s a factor in everyday life in this city.

  14. Communication is key and this post is a great opening…
    For the record I am white and have spent hundreds of hours in the Fillmore district without incident.
    Tonight my friends & I drove around looking at the progress being made in the fruitbelt when I was grwoing up all the hookers were on Chippewa and the “bad” area was the fruitbelt… well things change as the fruitbelt for the most part is looking really nice..I saw the elderly sitting in a pocket park amongst some beautiful flowers,a corner store on High st with beautiful annuals planted alongside it.I firmly believe BFs time will come again ..Andi f you have any doubts than go take a look at the grounds of St Stans,take a ride down Memorial Drive,Stop by and say hello to some of the friendliest people in Buffalo on Lombard st or go buy some of the best pierogis in the world at the Market!

  15. Mike Kozlowski: “Kozlowski”–the name of a family formerly from within Buffalo–that is a familiar-sounding name! I bet that if my parents were still alive they could pinpoint it for me and probably even knew your parents.

    Mr. Kozlowski, when I read your post I presumed that you meant what you typed, that your “mom has (since) moved to West Seneca and she is too frightened to be there by herself even during daylight hours.”

    I took your printed word to be true because, from this City, the view of the first-ring suburbs is beginning to fit your comment.

    Our city neighborhood had gotten pretty bad a few years back, but now we have some of the nicest kids any neighborhood, or school system, would want irregardless of national origin.

    (The Central Terminal area kids are pretty great too!) Hi! Central Terminal kids! We love ya!

    The Broadway Market: We go there at holiday times and sometimes the rest of the year–we are shoppers who prefer to SaveALot. We live not far from there, and, we wish it would continue to function.

    My fondest memories are of it as an open-air farmers’ market though.

    There are quite a number of places that are open-air places for buying fresh produce and flea markets that function quite well, but try to find a parking space!

    The economy and fuel prices being what they are could actually cause The Broadway Market to function again, but back out in the open?

    Eastertime might not be the same, but, hey, maybe that would work. (It is going to be a long, long time before Easter comes so early again.)

    As Golden Girls “Sophia” says, picture this:

    1 Get rid of all the building under the parking ramp but don’t take away the ramp because, unlike other “open” places outside this City, that ramp would not only serve as parking space, but it would serve as a roof and be a form of shelter under it in seasons other than summer.

    2 Extend a covered bridge across the street for additional parking.

    3 Because the Broadway Market IS in this City, the public transporation is already there.

    4 Set up park-and-ride areas OUTSIDE this City for buses, (including school buses), to bring people in.

    Picture this as an ad: You Know You Want To Come Visit The Exciting and New Twenty-First Century BROADWAY MARKET! (My spouse wants me to get off of this Internet, so, that is the best I could think of right now, but, a professional people magnet could get that right…

    “Gangersters and thugs” are the only ones who will not want to be heading there…

  16. Listen the neighborhood isn’t full of gansters and thugs most people around here are the same as most people everywhere. I saw Russ Pawlacks article in the paper yesterday and he talked about the neighborhood being an excuse for the Markets problems. I agree I also think that the management is looking to blame everyone exceppt themselves. They say the city is the problem, the neighborhood is the problem. I hope merchants at the market don’t buy into that crap.

    Has anyone been to the Clinton market? That matket is a melting pot. That is what the broadway market should be.

  17. S. Wilson: You’re right.

    The Clinton market is what The Broadway Market USED TO BE!!! Plus plenty of parking space at that Clinton St. market.

    I sometimes wonder what people who basically only come to The Broadway Market at Eastertime are feeling “nostalgic” about? What The Broadway Market is now is not the original thing!

    The real thing about TBM, that most still living can remember, was not only that it was open-air, but it was also about women with ‘babooshkas’ (scarves) on their heads carrying upside-down live chickens in home-
    made cloth ‘shopping bags’ while riding those sparking streetcars up and down brick-covered Broadway.

    If TBM would revert back to being outsided again, but with some sort of overhead covering extending from the parking ramp that is there now, more people could come for more months of the year.

    How many of the houses surrounding TBM on three sides are owner-occupied–any at all? (And, yes, I do realize what still being live-in, caring and house-proud homeowners on this E. side entails.)

    Take down at least the first-ring houses to at least the next three streets that surround TBM. Extend the present space of TBM, and then extend overhead weather protection from the parking ramp slanted downward……

    There is no way that TBM can function on a wider scale in it’s present tiny space and be profitable again.

    Yet, I feel that this a great time for the future of TBM BECAUSE our economy is such a mess and shows no signs of improvement for most of us!

    It already costs too much for most low-income and lower to middle, middle-income people, (we everyday people), anywhere to travel to anywhere else.

    Any future TBM has depends on first attracting those ‘everday’ people. And, when TBM gets off the ground again, the upper income people will come–curosity will be a power drawing-’em-in force.

    Drive by any large flea market on the weekends of spring, summer and early autumn and see the crowds outside–and see them for how many months!? Picture the time being extended if rain, snow and ice could be kept at bay a little longer, if the thrill of finding out-of-retail ‘treasures’ could be extended!

    I know that the present flea markets have buildings for the cold months, but, those are “dealers” with set pricing in there.

    For us, and people who have personal things and hand-made objects for sale, it is the outside stands that are the real attraction. Extend that outside, treasure-finding atmosphere at TBM and they will come. (Picture those busloads of curious from are nearby neighbors in Canada wanting the bus to make a stopover over at TBM.)

    And picture a museum for all things TBM and The Central Terminal at the future Central Terminal.

    I keep putting ‘The’ infront of Broadway Market and Central Terminal because using ‘the’ will keep them separate and unique from what they will be in the future.

  18. I think it’s time the city and all of WNY get behind the Central Terminal restoration process and speed things up redeveloping the several blocks behind the market and if this means demolition of blocks and relocating the people in other nearby housing so be it.
    The terminal should be turned into the new historical
    society displaying all the history of western NY ( most of it is presently in storage) use the main concourse for major events, have a school of history, place a couple of rapid transit cars on the belt line which services every part of the city and bring back the passenger trains
    Short term would require a facelift for the market, with all ethnic groups being representive, longer hours, better lighting and signage,and more regular law enforcement presence. The several blocks on the Broadway Business district needs a major facelift.
    As you see, its not just the market, its improvements to the area. (think outside the box)and lets not forget the great historcal churches that offer hope not only to the people but to the total redevelopment

  19. I really do appreciate your concerns about the area. However, when my parents lived on Shepard street for most of their lives, yes Broadway/Bailey, but still the same area, they had some serious problems in recent years. When two elderly folks, my Mom and Dad (in their late 70’s) wake up in the middle of the night to noises and find a man in their bedroom going thru their drawers is enough to send them packing. Unfortunately they could not sell the home I grew up in and lived for for about 25 years. My Mom could not sell and moved out after my Dad passed and 8 months ago. As she visited our home to check up on it, she found it ransacked – all copper plumbing ripped out, stained glass windows removed, vulgar spray paint on the walls, and YES, HUMAN EXCREMENT in the middle of our living room floor – where many many memories were made. Now, over the past 3 years since my wife and kids and I moved to Wellington Florida, the area may have improved, but somehow I doubt it. Perhaps all your efforts should be into setting up a NEW IMPROVED “BROADWAY MARKET” somewhere in the suburbs, where your life and personal possessions are not in danger. There is crime everywhere, but move into a home on Sweet Avenue, Grimes, Mohr, or any other East side area – and leave see what is happening.

    Geez, the Italian Festival use to be on Connecticut forever until bad things happened frequently.

    It’s time to move the market to reorganize, or close it.

  20. Mike Kozlowski: Your mom and your family have been through very recent and very traumatic times. The loss of her husband and distruction of her former and long-time family home must be awful for your mom and you.

    As far as moving The Broadway Market into the suburbs, I believe that has been suggested in the past.

    I believe the objective of all efforts at the present TBM is to keep it functioning in what was the first “Polonia”(sp?) area and tie both TBM and TCT together. (I consider Cheektowaga the second Polonia area.)

    If TBM were moved to the suburbs though, even if it was moved to Cheektowaga, (where many Polish families started moving to in large numbers in the late 1950s), the nostalgia most likely would be gone, making a suburban version of TBM just another store or flea market.

    In your twenty-first post you state, “…in the suburbs, where your life and personal possessions are not in danger” suggests you haven’t been back thisaway in a while!

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